You know what I’m talking about: the dreaded monster-under- the-bed, the skeleton in the closet – FEAR! We’re all familiar with that panic-y, hard time catching our breath, am I gonna die feeling! It’s there for a reason to protect us but really, what does it do?
Fear is a built-in mechanism that our brains use to protect us, to send extra endorphins to our extremities to RUN when presented with an actual dangerous situation. What stinks is that our brain can’t determine the difference between real danger and just the fear of the unknown so our bodies receive the same warning bells for all perceived scary situations. Because of this, we’ve learned over the years to let this feeling stop us from doing things we really want to do, ranging from simple things like making new friends or bigger things like traveling alone. Fear is one thing all of us humans experience in our lives – we all have it on a regular basis! So how do we learn to not let fear stop us in our tracks?
When working with clients, I’ve discovered that there are several tricks we
can utilize to practice owning our fear and not letting it own us:
First: sit in your fear!
This means to pause and let the feeling of terror, panic, anxiety rush over you … believe it or not, feelings will fade over time, some quicker than others. The fastest way to take control of your feelings is to be really comfortable with just having them. So don’t do anything when it first arises like distract yourself, avoid, etc. but rather just take a few minutes to see how your own personalized response to fear is like (it’s different for everyone). This will help you recognize your personal response in the future so that you’re not taken off guard.
Second: analyze your fear!
Ask yourself does it make sense that I’m scared I’m about to speak in front of 100 people? Should I be afraid to zip line when I’ve never done it before? Yes and Yes! A lot of time we completely overreact to our feelings, acting as if we shouldn’t be nervous or afraid to do something when in reality we should be! Remember, fear is there to protect us. It’s up to us to learn how to harness it in healthy ways.
Third: talk to you fear!
Remind yourself why you are doing whatever it is that is scaring you and then tell yourself what the hoped outcome is. For example, I’m giving this speech in front of 100 people because I want my message to be shared or I have to do this to graduate from my communications class. Then reassure yourself that you won’t die, that whatever it is you’re conquering is for a greater reward.
Lastly, remember that fear is normal!
It’s the biological way our brains process threats but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do the things that scare us … it’s when we learn to work with our fear and do those things any way, that the magic begins to happen! Imagine all the things you could create and accomplish if you didn’t allow your fears to stop you!